Geoffrey Arnold Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of the three noted guitarists to have played with the Yardbirds. Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group and with Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, he formed Beck, Bogert & Appice. Much of Beck's recorded output has been instrumental, with a focus on innovative sound, his releases have spanned genres ranging from blues rock, hard rock, an additional blend of guitar-rock and electronica. Although he recorded two hit albums as a solo act, Beck has not established or maintained the sustained commercial success of many of his contemporaries and bandmates. Beck appears on albums by Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Donovan, Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi, Malcolm McLaren, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May, Roger Taylor, Stanley Clarke, Screaming Lord Sutch, ZZ Top, Toots and the Maytals, he was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and the magazine, upon whose cover Beck has appeared three times, has described him as "one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock".
He is called a "guitarist's guitarist". Beck has earned wide critical praise and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance six times and Best Pop Instrumental Performance once. In 2014 he received the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a member of The Yardbirds and as a solo artist. Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born on 24 June 1944 to Arnold and Ethel Beck at 206 Demesne Road, England; as a 10-year-old, Beck sang in a church choir. He attended Sutton East County Secondary Modern School. Beck has cited Les Paul as the first electric guitar player. Beck has said that he first heard an electric guitar when he was 6 years old and heard Paul playing "How High the Moon" on the radio, he asked his mother. After she replied it was an electric guitar and was all tricks, he said, "That's for me". Cliff Gallup, lead guitarist with Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, was an early musical influence, followed by B.
B. King and Steve Cropper; as a teenager he learned to play on a borrowed guitar and made several attempts to build his own instrument, first by gluing and bolting together cigar boxes for the body and an unsanded fence-post for the neck with model aircraft control-lines and frets painted on. When fabricating a neck for his next try he attempted to use measurements for a bass guitar. Upon leaving school, he attended Wimbledon College of Art, after which he was employed as a painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course and a car paint-sprayer. Beck's sister Annetta introduced him to Jimmy Page. While still attending Wimbledon College of Art, Beck was playing in a succession of groups, including Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages during 1962 when they recorded "Dracula's Daughter"/"Come Back Baby" for Oriole Records. In 1963, after Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones introduced him to RnB, he formed the Nightshift with whom he played at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, recorded a single, "Stormy Monday"/"That's My Story", on the Piccadilly label.
Beck left Nightshift to join the Tridents in October 1964. The Tridents played at the Walton Hop in Walton-on-Thames, as the backing band for the Walton Hop talent show. Beck joined the Rumbles, a Croydon band, in 1963 for a short period as lead guitarist, playing Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly songs, displaying a talent for mimicking guitar styles. In 1963 he joined the Tridents, a band from the Chiswick area. "They were my scene because they were playing flat-out R&B, like Jimmy Reed stuff, we supercharged it all up and made it rocky. I got off on that though it was only twelve-bar blues." He was a session guitarist on a 1964 Parlophone single by the Fitz and Startz titled "I'm Not Running Away", with B-side "So Sweet". In March 1965, Beck was recruited by the Yardbirds to succeed Eric Clapton on the recommendation of fellow session musician Jimmy Page, their initial choice; the Yardbirds recorded most of their Top 40 hit songs during Beck's short but significant 20-month tenure with the band allowing him only one full album, which became known as Roger the Engineer, released in 1966.
Beck was pictured on the cover of For Your Love, released by the Yardbirds' American label in June 1965, though Clapton played guitar on most of the songs. From September to November 1966, Beck shared lead guitar duties in the Yardbirds with Page, who joined as a bass player in June that year. A clip of this iteration of the band can be seen in the 1966 British film Blow Up. Beck was fired in the middle of a U. S. tour for being a consistent no-show—as well as difficulties caused by his perfectionism and explosive temper. After leaving the Yardbirds, Beck recorded the one-off "Beck's Bolero" and two solo hit singles in the UK, "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and "Tallyman", he formed the Jeff Beck Group, which featured former Shadow Jet Harris on bass, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood firstly on rhythm guitar and bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and, after a series of drummers Micky Waller in early 1967. The group produced two albums for Columbia Records: Beck-Ola. Truth, released five months before the first Led Zeppelin album, features "You Shook Me", a song written and first recorded by Muddy Waters covered on
The British counter-culture or underground scene developed during the mid 1960s, was linked to the hippie and subculture of the United States. Its primary focus was around Notting Hill in London, it generated its own magazines and newspapers, bands and alternative lifestyle, associated with cannabis and LSD use and a strong socio-political revolutionary agenda to create an alternative society. Many in the blossoming underground movement were influenced by 1950s Beatnik Beat generation writers such as William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, who paved the way for the hippies and the counterculture of the 1960s. During the 1960s, the Beatnik writers engaged in symbiotic evolution with freethinking academics including experimental psychologist Timothy Leary. An example of the cross-over of beatnik poetry and music can be seen when Burroughs appeared at the Phun City festival, organised in 24–26 July 1970 by Mick Farren with underground community bands including The Pretty Things, the Pink Fairies, the Edgar Broughton Band and, from the United States, the MC5.
The UK's underground movement was focused on the Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill area of London, which Mick Farren said "was an enclave of freaks and bohemians long before the hippies got there". It had been depicted in Colin MacInnes' novel Absolute Beginners, about street culture at the time of the Notting Hill Riots in the 1950s; the underground paper International Times began to appear in 1966 and Steve Abrams, founder of Soma, summarised the underground as a "literary and artistic avant-garde with a large contingent from Oxford and Cambridge. John Hopkins, a member of the editorial board of International Times for example, was trained as a physicist at Cambridge." Police harassment of members of the underground became commonplace against the underground press. According to Farren, "Police harassment, if anything, made the underground press stronger, it focused attention, stiffened resolve, tended to confirm that what we were doing was considered dangerous to the establishment." Key underground bands of the time who performed at benefit gigs for various worthy causes included Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Deviants, Pink Fairies.
Within Portobello Road stood the Mountain Grill, a greasy spoon cafe, which in the late 1960s and early 1970s was frequented by several UK underground artists, including Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies. In 1974 Hawkwind released an album titled Hall Of The Mountain Grill and Steve Peregrin Took wrote Ballad of the Mountain Grill. Mick Farren said, My own feeling is that, not just sex, but anger and violence, are part and parcel of rock n' roll; the rock concert can work as an alternative for an outlet for violence. But at that time there were a lot of things that made us angry. We were outraged! In the U. S. the youth were sent to Vietnam and there was nothing we could do to change the way the government did it. Smoking cannabis and doing things to get thrown in jail were our own way of expressing our anger, we wanted change - I believed that picking up a guitar, not a gun, would bring about change. It's like Germaine Greer said about the underground - it's not just some sort of scruffy club you can join, you're in or you're out... it's like being a criminal.
The underground movement was symbolised by the use of drugs. The types of drugs used were varied and in many cases the names and effects were unknown as The Deviants/Pink Fairies member Russell Hunter, working at International Times, recalled. "People used to send in all kinds of strange drugs and things and powders, stuff to smoke and that. They'd always give them to me to try to find out what they were! ". Part of the sense of humour of the underground, no doubt induced by the effects of both drugs and radical thinking was an enjoyment at "freakin' out the norms". Mick Farren recalls actions sure to elicit the required response. "The band's baroque House of Usher apartment on London's Shaftesbury Avenue had witnessed pre-Raphaelite hippy scenes, like Sandy the bass player, Tony the now and again keyboard player, a young David Bowie, fresh from Beckenham Arts Lab, sunbathing on the roof, taking photos of each other and posing coyly as sodomites". The image of the underground as manifested in magazines such as Oz and newspapers like International Times was dominated by key talented graphic artists Martin Sharp and the Nigel Waymouth–Michael English team and the Coloured Coat, who fused Alfons Mucha's Art Nouveau arabesques with the higher colour key of psychedelia.
There was a smaller, less spread manifestation from the UK underground termed the "Overground", which referred to an explicitly spiritual, quasi-religious intent, though this was an element that had always been present. At least two magazines—Gandalf's Garden and Vishtaroon—adopted this "overground" style. Gandalf's Garden was a shop/restaurant/meeting place at World's End, Chelsea; the magazines were printed on pastel paper using multi-coloured inks and contained articles about meditation, mandalas, poetry and other subjects at a distance from the more wild and militant aspects of the underground. The first issue of Gand
UFO are an English rock band, formed in London in 1968. They became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British heavy metal; the band's current lineup includes vocalist Phil Mogg, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore, bass guitarist Rob De Luca and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond, drummer Andy Parker. They have gone through several line-up changes, leaving Mogg as the only constant member, had two hiatuses; the band are notable for featuring former Scorpions guitarist and MSG founder Michael Schenker, a member of UFO from 1973 to 1978 and again between 1993 and 2003, when Moore replaced him. In May 2018, Mogg announced that he will retire from UFO after one last tour as a member of the band in 2019. Over a career spanning 51 years, UFO have released 22 studio albums, 14 live recordings, 16 compilation albums and one album of cover songs, they achieved moderate success in the late 1970s and early 1980s with several albums and singles in the UK and US Top 40 charts, have sold over 20 million records worldwide.
Some of their best-known songs include "Doctor Doctor", "Rock Bottom", "Natural Thing", "Lights Out", "Too Hot to Handle" and "Only You Can Rock Me". UFO are considered one of the greatest classic hard rock acts, cited as one of the key influences on the 1980s and 1990s hard rock and heavy metal scenes; the band were ranked number 84 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock". Lead singer Phil Mogg, guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way, drummer Andy Parker formed the band in 1968. Taking the name Hocus Pocus, the group changed their name in October 1969 to UFO in honour of the London club where they were spotted by Noel Moore, who signed them to Beacon Records label, headed by Antiguan-born Milton Samuel, their eponymously titled first album debuted in 1970 and was a typical example of early hard rock including a heavy version of the Eddie Cochran classic "C'mon Everybody". Both UFO 1 and its follow-up UFO 2: Flying, were successful in Japan and Germany, but generated poor interest in Britain and America.
Part of UFO's early work was influenced by space rock, modestly popular at the time, but the band soon realised the style was somewhat limited. In January 1972, Mick Bolton left the group, UFO set out to find a guitarist who could provide the band with a more standard rock sound. After brief trial runs with Larry Wallis and Bernie Marsden the band recruited Michael Schenker from the Scorpions in June 1973. Schenker was only 18 at the time but was a well-respected guitarist. On a new label, Chrysalis Records, the revamped UFO recorded a non-LP single in 1973, "Give Her The Gun" and "Sweet Little Thing" with producer Derek Lawrence. In 1974, under producer Leo Lyons, UFO recorded Phenomenon, which highlighted the band's harder-edged guitar sound. Phenomenon contains many fan favorites such as "Doctor Doctor" and "Rock Bottom". By the time of the Phenomenon tour, ex-Skid Row guitarist Paul "Tonka" Chapman joined the group, but he left in January 1975 to form Lone Star. Two subsequent albums, Force It and No Heavy Petting, extensive touring brought UFO increased visibility with American audiences and increased their following in the UK.
The song "Belladonna" from No Heavy Petting was popular in the USSR based on the cover version by Alexander Barykin. In July 1976, the band recruited keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond from Savoy Brown to make 1977's Lights Out; this album was the pinnacle of UFO's studio career containing songs such as "Too Hot to Handle," "Lights Out," and the 7-minute opus "Love to Love." With Lights Out, the band received substantial critical acclaim. With their new-found success, the band went back into the studio to record Obsession in 1978; that year, the band went on tour in the USA and recorded a live album, Strangers In The Night, released in January 1979. Strangers was a critical and commercial success, reaching Number 8 in the UK Albums Chart in February 1979. Tensions had begun to grow between Mogg and Schenker in the late 1970s from Schenker leaving before or during shows. Soon after UFO's show in Palo Alto, California on 29 October 1978, Schenker left the band, he made a brief return to the Scorpions before going on to form his own Michael Schenker Group.
After Schenker's exit, UFO rehired Paul Chapman on guitar who brought over unused track ideas from Lone Star's drummer Dixie Lee. Shortly after, they released their next LP, No Place to Run, in January 1980. Produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, No Place To Run failed to match up to the success of its predecessors, though it fractionally missed the UK Top 10. Paul Raymond left the band at the end of the No Place To Run tour and was replaced by John Sloman from Uriah Heep on keyboards for a couple of months and by former Wild Horses guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter, who helped fill the void in the songwriting left by Sc
The Graham Bond Organisation
The Graham Bond Organisation were a British jazz/rhythm and blues group of the early 1960s consisting of Graham Bond, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Dick Heckstall-Smith and John McLaughlin. They recorded several albums and further recordings were issued when the group's members achieved fame in progressive rock and jazz fusion; the spelling of the band's original name varied between releases depending on the intended audience. The British English spelled as "Organisation" or "ORGANisation", while in some other countries outside the UK spelled "Organization". At the start of the British rhythm and blues boom the Graham Bond Organisation earned a reputation for playing aggressive R & B with prominent jazz and blues. Bond was the primary songwriter but encouraged the other musicians to contribute material, including Dick Heckstall-Smith's "Dick's Instrumental" and Ginger Baker's "Camels and Elephants", in which the drummer explored ideas he developed into his signature piece "Toad". Jack Bruce's harmonica-driven version of Peter Chatman's "Train Time" would become a staple in Cream's live performances.
The first commercial recording by the original lineup of the Graham Bond Organisation was released under the name of singer Winston G.. A protégé of expatriate Australian impresario Robert Stigwood, Winston had launched his career under the pseudonym "Johnny Apollo". In early 1965 both Winston and the Graham Bond Organisation were part of Stigwood-promoted UK package tour headlined by Chuck Berry. Since they shared management, the Graham Bond Organisation backed Winston on the Parlophone single "Please Don't Say" / "Like A Baby"; the band signed for Decca Records who released their dynamic version of the Don Covay composition "Long Tall Shorty" in 1964, backed with "Long Legged Girl". Their best-known single, the second released under their own name, was "Tammy" / "Wade in the Water", recorded on 4 January 1965 at Olympic Sound Studios, London; the track appeared on their debut album The Sound of 65. In 1965 the band appeared as themselves in the film Gonks Go Beat, where they played two songs including "Harmonica".
The band's fourth 45 featured the single-only tracks "Lease on Love" / "My Heart's in Little Pieces". The A-side is noteworthy for its pioneering use of the Mellotron, which Bond played on several tracks on their second LP There's A Bond Between Us; the single and the album tracks are believed to be the first'popular' recordings to feature the instrument, since "Lease on Love" appeared more than a year before the first UK chart hit to feature a Mellotron—Manfred Mann's "Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James" —and at least eighteen months before The Beatles made the Mellotron world-famous with "Strawberry Fields Forever". The tracks recorded for the second album were the last cut by the original Graham Bond Organisation lineup before Jack Bruce was fired in August 1965. On 7 August 1965 they played at the Richmond-on-Thames Jazz and Blues Festival, televised on the Shindig TV show; the group was plagued with Baker's ongoing feud with Bruce. Retrospectives of Cream indicate that Bond deputised Baker to fire Bruce, who joined Manfred Mann for a short time until July 1966 when Baker formed Cream with Bruce and Eric Clapton.
The group recorded "St James' Infirmary" without Bruce on 10 January 1966, released in the United States on the Ascot label and received indifferently. Another sideman was Mike Falana on trumpet. Bond reformed the Organisation with Jon Hiseman on drums; as a trio, Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman recorded the single "You’ve Gotta Have Love Babe" / "I Love You" on 18 January 1967 for Page One records. Bond left for the USA. Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith would leave to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for Bare Wires before forming Colosseum in the summer of 1968, with Tony Reeves on bass and Dave Greenslade keyboards; the Graham Bond Organisation's lack of commercial success, internal struggles and drug problems brought the band to an end in 1967, but its importance was soon recognised with the vogue for blues and progressive rock and the increased sales of albums. The double album Solid Bond, released by Warner Bros. Records in 1970, compiled live tracks recorded in 1963 by the Graham Bond Quartet and a studio session from 1966 by the final trio version of the Graham Bond Organisation.
Graham Bond reunited with his former bandmates in the early 1970s, playing with Ginger Baker's Air Force and spending a short time touring with Jack Bruce's band. He subsequently signed a contract with Vertigo Records and was off drugs by this time, although he was becoming obsessed with black magic. Bond died in May 1974. 1965 The Sound of'65 1965 There's a Bond Between Us 1988 Live at Klooks Kleek Steampacket Manfred Mann Shotgun Express Blues Incorporated John Mayall Colosseum Harvey Mandel The Graham Bond Organization discography at Discogs
International Times is the name of various underground newspapers, with the original title founded in London in 1966 and running until October 1973. Editors included Hoppy, David Mairowitz, Roger Hutchinson, Peter Stansill, Barry Miles, Jim Haynes and playwright Tom McGrath. Jack Moore, avant-garde writer William Levy and Mick Farren, singer of The Deviants edited at various periods; the paper's logo is a black-and-white image of vampish star of silent films. The founders' intention had been to use an image of actress Clara Bow, 1920s It girl, but a picture of Theda Bara was used by accident and, once deployed, not changed. Paul McCartney donated to the paper as did Allen Ginsberg through his Committee on Poetry foundation; the IT restarted first as an online archive in 2008, a move arranged by former IT editor and contributor Mike Lesser and financed by Littlewoods heir James Moores, in 2011 relaunched as an online magazine publishing new material, following a suggestion by Lesser to poet and actor Heathcote Williams.
Irish poet Niall McDevitt served as the first online editor of IT, a position held by Heathcote Williams until his death in 2017. Current editor-in-chief is Nick Victor. International Times was launched on 15 October 1966 at The Roundhouse at an'All Night Rave' featuring Soft Machine and Pink Floyd; the event promised a'Pop/Op/Costume/Masque/Fantasy-Loon/Blowout/Drag Ball' featuring'steel bands, trips, movies'. The launch was described by Daevid Allen of Soft Machine as "one of the two most revolutionary events in the history of English alternative music and thinking; the IT event was important because it marked the first recognition of a spreading socio-cultural revolution that had its parallel in the States."From April 1967, for some while the police raided the offices of International Times to try, it was alleged, to force the paper out of business. A benefit event labelled The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream took place at Alexandra Palace on 29 April 1967. Bands included Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Soft Machine, The Move, Sam Gopal Dream.
Despite police harassment, the paper continued to grow, with financial help from Paul McCartney, a personal friend of editor Barry Miles. Published fortnightly, it became the leading British underground paper, its circulation peaking at around 40,000 copies in late 1968/early 1969, before another police raid, along with competition from newer publications such as Time Out led to declining sales and a financial crisis. In response to another raid on the paper's offices, London's alternative press on one occasion succeeded, somewhat astonishingly, in pulling off what was billed as a "reprisal attack" on the police—prompting the Evening Standard headline Raid on the Yard; the paper Black Dwarf published a detailed floor-by-floor guide to Scotland Yard, complete with diagrams, descriptions of locks on particular doors and snippets of overheard conversation in the offices of Special Branch. The anonymous author, or "blue dwarf," as he styled himself, described how he perused police files, claimed to have sampled named brands of whisky in the Commissioner's office.
A day or two The Daily Telegraph announced that the "raid" had forced the police to withdraw and re-issue all security passes. In 1970 a group of people from IT, led by photographer Graham Keen, launched Cyclops, "The First English Adult Comic Paper." IT first ceased publication in October 1973, after being convicted for running contact ads for gay men. The name was revived by another publisher in May 1974 for three issues until October. In 1975, another underground publication, temporarily renamed itself IT - the International Times, until that title closed after the November issue. A new title of the same name launched the following month, continuing until March 1976 when it went into hiatus until resuming in January 1977, ceasing in August of that year. Publications with the International Times title were published from January to December 1978, again from April 1979 to June 1980. A single'festival issue' was produced in June 1982; the title was again revived in 1986, with three issues from January to March, the last time a paper publication of the IT name was printed.
In 2016, the 50th anniversary of the first copy of the magazine, further editions of a paper version of IT began to be published starting with issue Zero. These were edited by Heathcote Ruthven. International Times has published two books. Both are poetry collections – Royal Babylon by Heathcote Williams, an attack on the British Monarchy, Porterloo by Niall McDevitt, a book satirising the Conservative Party and registering the counterculture of 2011-12. Many people who became prominent UK figures wrote for IT, including feminist critic Germaine Greer and social commentator Jeff Nuttall, occultist Kenneth Grant, DJ John Peel. There were many original contributions from underground writers such as Alexander Trocchi. Leading editorial contributors to the late 1970s IT were Heathcote Williams, Max Handley, Mike Lesser, Eddie Woods, Chris Sanders. In 1986 IT was relaunched by Chris Brook. After three issues Allen left, Brook continued with one more issue. After various one-off issues into 1991, 2000 saw Brook and others create a web-based presence—initially through the alternative server'Phreak', c.
1996. There are two archive sources online: 1) a comprehensive archive scanned by previous contributors and editors, a less extensive archive with some commentary. International Times Archive is a free online
A Whiter Shade of Pale
"A Whiter Shade of Pale" is the debut single by the British rock band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967. The single stayed there for six weeks. Without much promotion, it reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. One of the anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of the best selling singles in history, having sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, unusual lyrics – by the song's co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher – "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reached number 1 in many countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic, it was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK, the United Kingdom performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognised it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed "A Whiter Shade of Pale" 57th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In 1977, the song was named joint winner of "The Best British Pop Single 1952–1977" at the Brit Awards. In 1998 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. More than 1000 recorded cover versions by other artists are known; the song has been included in many music compilations over the decades and has been used in the soundtracks of numerous films, including The Big Chill, Purple Haze, Breaking the Waves, The Boat That Rocked, Martin Scorsese's segment of New York Stories, Stonewall and Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's documentary series The Vietnam War. Cover versions of the song have been featured in many films, for example, by King Curtis in Withnail and I and by Annie Lennox in The Net; the original writing credits were for Reid only. On 30 July 2009, Matthew Fisher won co-writing credit for the music in a unanimous ruling from the Law Lords. Keith Reid got the starting point for the song at a party, he overheard someone at the party saying to a woman, "You've turned a whiter shade of pale", the phrase stuck in his mind.
The original lyrics had four verses. The third verse has been heard in live performances by Procol Harum, more also the fourth. Claes Johansen, in his book Procol Harum: Beyond the Pale, suggests that the song "deals in metaphorical form with a male/female relationship which after some negotiation ends in a sexual act"; this is supported by Tim de Lisle in Lives of the Great Songs, who remarks that the lyrics concern a drunken seduction, described through references to sex as a form of travel nautical, using mythical and literary journeys. Other observers have commented that the lyrics concern a sexual relationship. Contrary to the above interpretations, Reid was quoted in the February 2008 issue of Uncut magazine as saying: I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room humming harder, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious with those images, I was trying to be evocative. I suppose.
But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then. I might have been smoking, it was influenced by books, not drugs. Structurally and thematically, the song is unusual in many respects. While the recorded version is 4:03 long, it is composed of only two verses, each with chorus; the piece is more instrument-driven than most songs of the period, with a much looser rhyme scheme. Its unusually allusive and referential lyrics are much more complex than most lyrics of the time. Thus, this piece can be considered an early example of progressive rock; the phrase a whiter shade of pale has since gained widespread use in the English language, noticed by several dictionaries. As such, the phrase is today used in contexts independent of any consideration of the song, it has been paraphrased, in forms like "an Xer shade of Y", to the extent that it has been recognised as a snowclone – a type of cliché and phrasal template. The song is in moderate time in C major and is characterised by the bassline moving stepwise downwards in a repeated pattern throughout.
In classical music this is known as a ground bass. The harmonic structure is identical for the organ melody, the verse and the chorus, except that the chorus finishes with a cadence; the main organ melody appears after each verse/chorus. But it is heard throughout, playing variations of its theme and counterpointing the vocal line; as the chorus commences "And so it was, that later...", the vocal and organ accompaniment begin a short crescendo, with the organist running his finger down and up the entire keyboard. The final instrumental fades out to silence – a common device in pop music of the time. A BBC Radio 4 programme in the 2018 series “Soul Music” pointed out the resemblance between the Hammond Organ line of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and J. S. Bach’s Air from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 BWV1068, where the sustained opening note of the main melodic line flowers into a free-flowing melody against a descending bass line: Allan Moore notes “a certain family resemblance” that “creates the sense of music without quoting it.”
The similarity is referred to humorously in the 1982 play The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard and in the 1991 film The Commitments. Other writers have noted similar “family resemblances” to other works by Bach: the Sinfonia which opens the cantata Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grab